September 15, 2008

Carlstadt to Fight Housing Decision


CARLSTADT - The borough has challenged a state appellate court panel's decision on a proposed development in the marshlands.

The Borough Council passed a resolution Thursday to take the case to the state Supreme Court. Lower courts have ruled that a development that includes affordable housing units should be allowed; the borough believes it would, among other issues, harm the wetlands.

East Rutherford, which is also affected by the development, has also vowed to challenge the ruling.

The case is significant because both communities are challenging the court that established Council on Affordable Housing regulations, known as COAH.

"It's unfair for the people," Councilman Joseph Crifasi said Friday. "We need a court that is independent from the powers that be.

"The state Legislature should be able to review whether our cause is just," Crifasi said. "They should be able to change the COAH requirements on their own."

The case has been a hot issue because there is debate about whether the two boroughs failed to meet their affordable housing obligation when they refused to permit development in a marshland that surrounds the communities. During litigation, both towns have argued that development of the area would destroy wetlands.

Both communities have disputed COAH's fair share computation and said the cost to provide municipal services to families in the marshland would be a burden because of its remoteness from the rest of the community.

Last month, an appeals court panel of three judges upheld a 2006 Superior Court ruling that forces the boroughs to build 840 residential units in a proposed development that straddles the two communities.

In 1996, Superior Court Judge Jonathan Harris granted a so- called builders remedy status to Tomu Corp., allowing the developer to build 840 units, including 140 units of affordable housing.

East Rutherford, which has also vowed to challenge the ruling, is scheduled to have its council meeting Tuesday, officials said.


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